USWNT vs. Australia
Time: 6:30pm CT
Location: Investors Group Field, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
TV: Fox Sports 1
Four long years the United States women’s national team has waited to erase the painful memories of July 17th, 2011 where the ladies fell to Japan on penalty kicks, having given up to leads include a late equalizer, in the Women’s World Cup Final.
Four years ago the USWNT had captured the nation’s attention much as the men had a year earlier with Landon Donovan’s Algeria miracle. Abby Wambach would play the hero’s role heading a perfectly places Megan Rapinoe cross past Brazil in stoppage time in the WWC quarterfinals. From there it seemed like destiny that the women would triumph.
The 1999 USWNT World Cup triumph had created a long shadow over the national teams that followed. Each successive tournament in 2003, 2007, and, then, finally, 2011 against Japan was a sign that the U.S. team wasn’t as good as its predecessor and that women’s soccer had come along way since that day in the Rose Bowl in Southern California.
Not even an Olympic goal medal in London two years ago could replace the failure to lift the Women’s World Cup trophy on that fateful afternoon in 2011. The ultimate prize remains a third star above the U.S. crest.
Tonight, against Australia, the women’s national team, begins another quest to capture their third WWC title. The first of three group games that sees the U.S. hope to top what was dubbed the tournament’s toughest pairings.
Familiar faces from 2011 will again lead the squad. Hope Solo between the pipes, Alex Morgan galloping to goal, Megan Rapinoe lashing crosses, Carli Lloyd unleashing knucklers from 25 yards out, and Christine Rampone, the last of the 99ers, 40 years young, marshaling the backline.
And then there’s Abby Wambach, the face of women’s soccer in America. She missed the 2007 WWC through injury and in 2011 dragged the USWNT from the brink of elimination to the Finals only to fall short. There is no one that wants that third star, but her first trophy, more than Wambach. Soccer’s (men or women) all-time leading scorer may not dominate like she has in the past, but no one will bring more heart and determination between the white lines or leadership from the sidelines than her.
These veterans will link up with hungry youngsters with their first shot at glory. If Morgan isn’t healthy (knee) she’ll be supported by Sydney Leroux Dwyer and Christen Press who are worthy replacements. Julie Johnston has been a revelation in defense while also providing welcome offensive contributions to the squad.
Full USWNT Roster:
Goalkeepers: Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers) and Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC).
Defenders: Lori Chalupny (Chicago Red Stars), Whitney Engen (Western NY Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Houston Dash), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC) and Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City).
Midfielders: Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City) and Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC).
Forwards: Sydney Leroux (Western NY Flash), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City) and Abby Wambach (unattached).
No matter the challenge… it’s the World Cup Final or bust.